Rethink Senate District 34 in Central PA

I live in state Senate District 34. This district, like most across the interior of Pennsylvania, leans red as it covers a vast and largely rural area of the state including Centre, Mifflin and Juniata Counties and a portion of Huntingdon County. And, as is often the case in Senate districts across interior Pennsylvania, the voices of many of those living in my blue-leaning urban and suburban community often go unheard because we are geographically concentrated and numerically outnumbered within our district. It seems to me that this is particularly true for communities surrounding local institutions of higher education which are central to the vitality of their community. For the past 44 years I have lived in such a community, the community of State College which surrounds the Pennsylvania State University at University Park. Communities with colleges and their rich diversity of people, cultures and ideas have a lot to contribute toward a healthy and well functioning Commonwealth. It is not only a major detriment to these communities that their voices go unheard in Harrisburg, it is also a significant loss to the larger community that is our state. My recommendation for improving PA Senate representation in the 34th District, therefore, is to draw a map that enables the communities with colleges in our central region to speak with a more unified voice. Instead of having their voices diluted by being split across state senate districts, several of these communities are close enough geographically that it would make good sense to include them in one district. Specifically, I would recommend that the 34th District be redrawn so that it no longer includes those counties south of Centre County. Instead, the new district should stretch east from Centre County to the natural boundary provided by the Susquehanna River. This new district should be drawn to include the communities of Lock Haven (with Lock Haven University), Lewisburg (with Bucknell University), and Selinsgrove (with Susquehanna University). For reference please see the PA People’s Senate Map submitted by Fair Districts PA. What this map proposes as Senate District 4 (revamping current Senate District 34) is precisely the type of change that I am recommending. This change would likely have little impact on the political lean of the district but it would enable several of the college communities in the region to join their voices on issues critical to them…and, hopefully, have a better chance of being heard. I realize that such a map would not respect county boundaries as closely as the current map does. However, enabling the voices of these communities to be better heard in Harrisburg is of far greater importance than adhering to lines drawn long before these communities existed and which may be far less relevant in representing their needs today.